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A Maker of Potions

Severus Snape – dark enigma.

    e  Pompous and sarcastic Head of the Noble House of Slytherin

    e  Dumbledore’s Dark Spy, and now hero of the war against Voldemort

    e  An inspirational speaker (when he bothers), yet – in terms of scholastic results – we learn that              he’s only a ‘ fairly mediocre’ teacher

    e  Mean and cruel to students

    e  Tetchy, manipulative, and at times intimidatory to colleagues

    e  And in his private life – a wealthy seeker of carnal pleasures

What is his past, present and future?

What could this irascible wizard possibly have to fear from a new trainee teacher?

What are his long-term ambitions, and can he develop the maturity to achieve them?

Could he ever come close to equalling the great Albus Dumbledore, that powerful wizard and inspired manager of difficult personalities, who – as we shall see proved again for us in this tale – can bring all the right people together to resolve a crisis.

And is ‘Super Sleuth’ Snape as good a spy as he thinks he is?

If you would like answers to these questions, this emotional roller-coaster of a story should fit the bill nicely.

Bookmarks

Introduction & Disclaimer

Part 1 - Chapter 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 

Part 2 -  Chapter 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15- 16  

               17 - 18 - 19 - 20  - Epilogue

 

Chapter Seventeen -  The Milestone

The pilastered white marble walls gave the room a feeling of neoclassical grace.  The beige veins of the marble toned in with the toffee coloured Wilton carpet.  Fragrant, black-red Guinée roses were everywhere – in sprays on classical marble ‘pillar’ stands, in swags around the walls, and in a shallow bronze bowl on the gold-draped table behind which Elphinstone MacCandlish, the Chief Registrar stood waiting.

Across the table from the Registrar and a little to the right sat Snape, and to his right was Fabien Lavelle.  Behind them, the seats were taken up by almost all the staff of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry together with Harry Potter and Cho Chang.

The seating in the room was arranged in two blocks that flanked a wide central isle.  The front row of the left hand block was occupied only by Aurora Lavelle.  In the rows behind her were ranged Aurora’s parents, Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall, Aberforth Dumbledore and his wife, Septimus Peor with Remus Lupin, and Amanda Fitzwarren and Neville Longbottom with Ginny, Charlie, and most of the other Weasleys.  Behind them, the massive figures of Rubeus Hagrid and Olympe Maxime completed the occupation of the left hand seats.  The Headmaster had found it difficult to choose which side to sit – he was, by marriage, Celeste’s great uncle, but he also felt himself to be something of a father figure to Snape.  Eventually he decided he must abide by tradition – he knew Snape would understand, and probably not want it any other way.  As ever, McGonagall wanted to sit next to the Headmaster but she had no wish to sit on Snape’s side of the room – she had no desire to be seen to be in any sense on his side.

In a little shallow alcove to the right of the main room, a small orchestra was softly playing Luigi Boccherini’s Minuet from his String Quartet in E Major.  The sound wafted gently out across the sea of witches and wizards in their beautiful robes and hats.

The orchestra finished Boccherini’s Minuet and began the second Andante from Handel’s Water Music, at which point Snape rose slowly from his seat and turned, looking more Gothic than ever amid the room’s neoclassical elegance.  Snape however had his own kind of elegance.  He stood tall and proud, composed and looking very much in command.  He was hiding his nerves well.  He wore and outer robe and tunic of bottle green velvet, black breeches and a snowy white silk shirt.  The left breast of his robe bore a silver Slytherin serpent.  The congregation’s faint and expectant buzz of conversation subsided as, pale and motionless, his black hair framing his face in a pointed arch, Snape stood looking down the room, gazing over the heads of the crowd, patiently waiting.  At the appropriate stage in the music the door at the back of the room opened.

Celeste and her father appeared.  Snape knew she had rehearsed this carefully, planning her entrance so that by the time the two of them reached him, the music would be drawing to its close.

Lucien Lavelle wore a gold-edged silk robe of his habitual powder blue, royal blue breeches and a cream satin shirt.  Celeste wore a robe of deep red velvet edged with gold and bearing on the left breast the gold emblem of a rampant lion – the colours and insignia of the House of Gryffindor.  Naturally, her hair was put up into its French pleat, but Snape was surprised to see that she had forgotten her ear clips.  Where are the gold earrings, he wondered.  Then he understood.  The neck of her new red dress was cut low, revealing the silver serpent necklace with its oval emerald.  It was more important to Celeste to wear that necklace at her wedding than to maintain her careful colour co-ordination.  It was a detail he appreciated – its meaning a signal just between the two of them.

Arm in arm, Celeste and her father paced slowly down the isle.  She caught Snape’s eye, gave him a small, reassuring smile and his taught face softened in return.

Once they were positioned in front of the table, Lucien Lavelle took his daughter’s right hand and passed it to Snape who held his left hand ready to receive it.  Briefly Lucien wrapped their hands in both of his own, pressing them together to signal his blessing on their union.  He smiled at them and slowly withdrew to sit beside his wife in the first front-row seat.  The music faded to it’s conclusion and the Registrar cleared his throat.

“We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Severus Sebastian Salazar Snape and Celestine Leander Lavelle…” he began.  His voice was even and comforting, unhurried and deep…  “…If any person knows of any reason why these two should not be joined in matrimony, let that person now declare it, or forever maintain his silence.”  He waited for a few seconds in case anyone wanted to challenge the validity of the marriage, and then continued.  At length he reached the vows.

“Repeat after me” he said softly to Snape.  “I call upon these persons here present … to witness that I, Severus Sebastian Salazar Snape … do solemnly take … Celestine Leander Lavelle … to my wedded wife … to have and to hold … from this day forward … in sickness and in health ... for better or for worse … and forsaking all others, I bind myself to her.”

Phrase by phrase, Snape dutifully repeated the words, and in her turn Celeste did the same.

“Have you a ring?” the Registrar discretely asked Snape.  Rings were not obligatory, but for those who chose to provide one, they were expected to provide an accompanying speech.  Fabien stood up briefly to pass Snape the Slytherin platinum ring with its diamonds and central emerald.  Snape placed it halfway along Celeste’s finger and spoke the words he had prepared.

“I give thee this ring … in token of my love, and of my undying devotion … an heirloom of my House … and a pledge of the worldly goods with which, unreservedly, I thee endow … and hereto I plight thee my troth.”  Gently, he pushed the ring into place at the base of her finger.

“Have you a ring?” the Registrar discretely asked Celeste.

She nodded calmly as Lucien stepped forward, handing his daughter a ring.  She turned and placed it halfway along Snape’s wedding finger.  He had never seen the ring before.  It was gold and shaped exactly like hers.  It also contained three gemstones – a deep red garnet flanked by small, brilliant diamonds.  His hand was trembling slightly and she gave it an affectionate squeeze.

Her voice was level and assured as she spoke her prepared words.  “I give thee this ring … in token of my love, and of my undying devotion …  May the garnet’s fire bring warmth to you in the chill of the world … and may the diamonds’ light be a guide to you through the darkness …  And with this I plight thee my troth.”  Gently, she pushed the ring into place at the base of Snape’s finger.  It fitted exactly – they were both relieved to find that the measurements the jeweller had taken in April had not been inaccurate.  Thinking over her words, Snape gazed in awe at his beautiful ring, and he squeezed Celeste’s hand.

“I now pronounce you man and wife – you may now kiss the bride” the Registrar said.  Snape’s ring glittered as he slowly swept his arm around Celeste and kissed her gently.  The Registrar smiled.  “A little paperwork formality now” he said; “the signing of the register.”

As they disappeared into the anteroom for the signing, the orchestra played Carl Orff’s music and Fabien’s mellow voice captivated the assembly with Omnia sol temperat.

When Celeste and Snape re-emerged the ceremony was technically at an end.  Having sung the closing bars, Fabien stepped aside.  With a whisper of thanks to him and to the Registrar, Celeste and Snape stepped forward and began their return down the isle, as the orchestra played the joyful and ebullient third movement – the Allegro – from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number One.

They assembled in the reception room amid warm wishes of congratulation and the clicking and flashing of two photographers’ cameras.  One camera belonged to the photographer Sinistra had hired for them as her wedding present, the other was from the press.  They posed for photographs, said their goodbyes to Celeste’s grand parents who were not going on to the reception, and then finally prepared to Disapparate, making for Hogsmeade where the carriages waited to transport them to Hogwarts.  Sinistra’s photographer accompanied the wedding party – he would be present for the whole day.

At Hogwarts a marquee had been set up in the grounds, and when all the guests were seated the house-elves served the food and made sure everyone’s wine goblet was kept filled.  Dumbledore made a short speech of welcome and toasted the bride and groom to signal the start of the wedding feast.

Snape and Celeste had changed their clothes.  Snape was still in bottle green but his robe was of a summer-weight material.  Celeste wore a full-skirted, sea green, silk dress with a tight bodice and leg-of-mutton sleeves.  The necklace was still proudly in evidence at her plunging neckline and the silver ear clips were now in place.

When people were starting to feel replete it was traditionally the time for the bridegroom’s speech.  Snape rose from his seat and called for everyone’s attention.

“Ladies and Gentlemen.  Colleagues.  Friends.”  As Snape spoke he looked around, letting his hypnotic gaze draw everyone in.  “You will no doubt be pleased to hear that I shall not weary you with a long speech, but while I am speaking could I please ask the house-elves to charge the glasses.  Thank you.”  He paused briefly to ensure the elves had noted their cue and were discretely topping up all the champagne flutes; and as they did so, he continued.  “First of all I should like to say ‘Thank – You – All’ for coming here today, to join Celeste and myself as we celebrate our special day.  Thank you for the wonderful gifts you have given us (he waved an elegant hand towards a table at the end of the marquee, laden with beautifully wrapped packages).  Thank you too for the less, err, tangible presents – for this banquet, and the use of the school premises, for the music we will shortly hear, and the fireworks which will conclude today’s celebration; for the photographer recording this special event; and too for the help I have received in preparing myself for this day.”  As he made this last point Snape directed his gaze upon Madeline Black and gave her a small, shy smile.  Then he broadened his gaze and continued once more.

“Today marks a milestone in my life.  A turning point.  Another–second–chance.  There have been some dark times in my life – often of my own making – but I have been very fortunate, more fortunate than I perhaps deserve, to have good friends to help me through those times.  The Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, has fulfilled such a rôle and I now offer him my long overdue thanks.  And now Celestine Leander Lavelle takes up the challenge of shining a light into the dark corners of this irascible wizard’s psyche.  You will no doubt agree, hers is a brave undertaking.  So I ask you now, without more ado” Snape said, picking up his own champagne flute, “to raise your glasses and drink a toast, to the witch who has generously consented to share her life with mine – Mrs Celestine Snape.”

Everyone stood momentarily and raised their glasses, murmuring ‘Mrs Celestine Snape’.  Then, as the elves again saw to the refilling of the glasses, they took their seats, expecting Dumbledore or possibly Fabien to call the next toast.

As they toasted her, Celeste looked shyly around and smiled, murmuring her thanks.  Then as Snape resumed his seat she surprised everyone by getting to her feet.

“It is not customary” she announced bravely, “for a bride to make a speech at her wedding reception, but having received such a tribute, I must break with tradition.  My husband will not approve of this – he is a stickler for tradition.”  She smiled and continued.

“I think it is true to say that Severus Snape – irascible wizard – is very well known to almost everyone here.  You have probably called him many things over the years.”  Her audience smiled, some chuckled.  Difficult is one of the politer words that spring to mind.”  At this impish comment, warm laughter filled the marquee.  “But” she continued in a more serious vein, “Severus, as he has shown many times, has never been lacking in courage.  So, ladies and gentlemen, would you please raise your glasses and drink a toast to, the wizard who will not flinch from pain in order to achieve change – Professor Severus Snape.”

Along with the guests, Celeste turned to Snape, raised her glass and toasted him.  He was dumbfounded and actually looked visibly moved.  Fighting to keep control of his emotions, he reached out his hand to hers.  She put down her glass, bent, and kissed him, and this brought forth a storm of applause.  Finally, as it subsided Fabien rose, made a short speech and blessed the bride and groom.  He then read out some owled messages of congratulation.  They included one from Cornelius and Petronella Fudge, one from Percy Weasley and Penelope Clearwater, and one from Vladimir Gordeev, the Russian Wizard who was Charlie’s predecessor in Romania.  Once they were dealt with Fabien announced “Ladies and Gentlemen, or do I mean Witches and Wizards?  Forgive a Muggle his lack of accurate terminology.  The dancing will now begin…”

Dancing took place on the lawn near to the marquee.  As planned, music was provided by the Niall Falallin orchestra, with Ravelin to arrive later to do the hotter numbers.  Snape opened the dancing with Celeste, swinging her confidently about to Alicia’s light, jazzy and jokey rendition of It Had To Be You.  Other couples soon joined them, Celeste’s parents, Dumbledore with McGonagall, Aberforth with his wife, Sprout with her husband, the Blacks, Harry with Cho Chang and Hagrid with Madam Maxime.  More and more came forward until the dance area was quite full.

Alicia looked a picture in a glittery sugar pink full length dress and silver sandals.  Her hair was trimmed with tiny pink rosebuds.  She followed It Had To Be You with a sultry-voiced I’ll Take Romance, to which the couples could waltz.  Snape and Celeste looked at ease as they danced, and they seemed to be having fun.  It was also increasingly clear that they were becoming heedless of the staring crowds and simply enjoying the music.  And it was true, Snape was at last starting to lose the painful self-consciousness that fuelled a lot of his coldness, his sarcasm and his disproportionate desire to prove himself.

Harry struggled through Begin the Beguine, but when the orchestra slid into the rapidly cascading phrases of the Brandenburg’s ‘Cadenza’ Adagio, he and Cho decided to give it a miss.  They sat down and watched Snape whirling Celeste around in a spirited waltz to the Bach Concerto that had actually been composed before the modern form of the waltz had been invented.  Cho was slightly envious – Harry could never manage what they called ‘old fashioned’ dances.  Harry was amazed at his old Potions Master – he had never imagined Snape doing anything as remotely human and pleasurable as dancing.

Alicia took a rest while the orchestra played Cheek to Cheek, and then tried to dance a two-step with Sirius Black, to the tune of the 1930s song March Winds and April Showers.  Her straight dress was rather too tight for dancing and they both found it quite hilarious.

By then Snape and Celeste were standing to one side, resting, and drinking iced pumpkin juice.  They surveyed the crowd and the dancers, noticing Sirius laughing good-naturedly with Alicia.

“It’s quite a success” Snape said happily, “and the weather is perfect!  By the way, who invited Draco Malfoy to the reception?  I’m not displeased to see him, but he buttonholed me about a teaching career when he greeted me a few minutes ago.”

“I think he’s with Hermione Granger” Celeste replied a little uncertainly.  “Remember we marked some invitations to named individuals plus guest of their choice?  I believe Hermione brought the Malfoy boy.”

“Did she really?” Snape said, amazed.  “I thought she would probably bring Viktor Krum.”

He watched Neville Longbottom dancing quite smoothly with Ginny Weasley, and the Weasley parents dancing together as the orchestra played the tune of another 1930s song, Hands Across the Table.  He observed that Alicia was having more success in moving to this tune as she danced with Fabien Lavelle.  He also spotted Septimus Peor and Remus Lupin who were drinking flagons of mead and talking to Harry and Cho.  Yes, he said to himself, it’s going splendidly.

* * *

Dusk was falling, making the flashes from the photographer’s camera more noticeable.  Magically suspended lanterns were popping into existence and floating above the crowd.  Some guests were helping themselves to food from the buffet in the marquee.  Many others were dancing; the orchestra was playing You and The Night and The Music.

Ravelin had arrived and were setting up with help from the Flitwick brothers.  The band all wore glossy black two-piece suits, white satin shirts, and green bow ties.  Fake diamond cufflinks glittered at their wrists.  Harry went over to see Dean who had been a Housemate of his at Hogwarts.  They chatted and reminisced until Dean said “OK, we’re gonna start now, Harry.  We’re openin’ wiv You Aint Seen Nothin’ Yet…”

In need of a rest, Dumbledore and McGonagall sat at a little table with Celeste’s parents and Fabien Lavelle, and watched the dancers jiving to the hot rock number You Aint Seen Nothin’ Yet.  The Black’s were, as usual, going wild, but even Snape and Celeste were putting in an amazingly good effort.  After several goblets of wine, Snape had really got into the mood of the dancing and had thrown caution to the winds.

Dumbledore noticed Aurora Lavelle’s eyes narrow.  “Do you still doubt him, Aurora?” he asked.

“I’ll never trust him” she murmured.  “Look at him – Salazar Slytherin reborn!”

“He is not an ancestor of Salazar’s” McGonagall said.  “His great-great something-or-other was adopted by Slytherin’s descendants.  Albus has the details somewhere.”

“Yes, a baby was adopted” Dumbledore agreed. “A foundling.  Left on a doorstep, much as I left Harry Potter.  But I believe the Snape foundling was actually a Slytherin descendent.  I looked into Snape’s family history when he came here as a pupil.  Such a strange, gifted, difficult boy he was.  Quite an enigma.  All my investigations lead me to believe the witch who abandoned that baby was indeed a pureblood Slytherin.  As to why she left her child?  Perhaps she could not endure the stigma of his illegitimacy.  Perhaps she did not have the means to take care of him.  Who knows?  Severus pooh-poohed my theory.  He certainly never saw himself as ‘The Heir of Slytherin’, and he is not a parcelmouth.  And yet – I still suspect we are looking at the heirs of Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin dancing together today.  And when you see the firework display tonight, you will see I am not alone in my opinions.”

“That just proves me right” Aurora said smugly.

“You are too hard on him, Aurora” Lucien objected.  “Yes, he has a dark side, but few of us are exempt from that.  He also has a power to heal.”

“He does indeed” Fabien agreed, “and an ability to break free of his darkness.”

The tune changed.  Dean Thomas began to sing Witchcraft, and Fabien stood up to dance.  “Minerva, may I?” he asked, extending his hand to her.  “I bet you have never danced with a Friar before!”

Blushing slightly, McGonagall stood up and took his hand.

*

For the evening Alicia had swapped sugar pink for midnight blue.  It was another sequinned sheath dress of satin, slashed to the thigh to reveal dark blue fishnet tights.  Her hair sparkled with metallic blue glitter.  Her next song was My Resistance Is Low.

Ravelin followed this with the Beach Boys’ song Barbara Anne.  Snape had by now taken a small drop of Terpsichorean Potion just to give himself a little extra courage, and he and Madeline Black managed a modern bop to this song, as did Sirius and Celeste.  Then they swapped back to their respective spouses for a very hot rendition of Crocodile Rock, and then Take a Chance on Me, followed by Dean cooling the tempo by singing This Time The Girl Is Gonna Stay.

At about half-past nine Alicia and Dean were singing Say Me, Say You as a duet, to which everyone could dance a slow smooch.  Following this, and moving in perfect unison like The Four Tops, Ravelin sang Knock on Wood, during which Snape and Celeste stopped dancing and went to say farewell to a few chosen individuals.

“The next three songs lead, without a break, into the firework display” they explained “And at the end of that we set off.  So we want to say goodbye in advance now, and to thank you for making this day so wonderful for us.”  They embraced Celeste’s parents – Celeste giving her father a special hug of gratitude, as she could see he had found the day something of an ordeal.  They also embraced Fabien who again uttered a blessing.  There were hugs too for Dumbledore and McGonagall.  Snape shook hands with the Flitwick brothers and Celeste kissed them.  Then they looked for Harry and Cho and the Blacks, but they were all dancing.  “No matter” Celeste said.  “They’ll get our thank you letters soon.”

Accompanied by Ravelin and the full orchestra Alicia was starting to sing The Power of Love as her last solo so they quickly returned to the dance area.

Ten o’clock was approaching.  Alicia’s The Power of Love had given way to Ravelin performing Take My Breath Away and then to the orchestra playing the waltz Oh How We Danced On The Night We Were Wed.  Couples smooched dreamily to Take My Breath Away, but most were getting tired, and the following waltz, with its accelerating tempo was too energetic for them.  They drifted to the sides of the dance area, leaving Snape and Celeste to dance alone.

Snape whirled Celeste around faster and faster – they looked as though they could dance all night.  Their eyes were locked onto one-another; no one else existed for them now.  In many ways Snape looked very much the evil sorcerer and Celeste the beautiful bewitched victim – some would have agreed with Aurora Lavelle’s opinion of him.

As the final bars of the waltz approached, Felix Flitwick and his brother Clement positioned themselves beside the firework ignition point.

The music was changing, blending seamlessly into Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks as the dancing stopped completely and all the lanterns were extinguished.  Showers of Dr Filibuster’s ‘Professional Exhibition Grade’ fireworks exploded in time to the thunderous baroque chords, reaching ever higher as the music progressed.  Enthralled, the crowd oooed and aaarhed!  At the climax the final fireworks burst, fizzing and crackling, splitting the darkness, forming the shapes of a golden lion and a silver serpent cleverly intertwined; as starbursts of red and green repeatedly erupted around them.  The crowd gasped!

“That is truly amazing!” Dumbledore exclaimed.  “Felix and Clement have surpassed themselves.  It would be so easy for one animal to appear to be devouring or crushing the other, but the Flitwick brothers have depicted an embrace; a caress.”

Standing at the front of the crowd, in their own embrace stood Snape and Celeste, their heads tilted back to watch the pyrotechnic wonder.  This was their signal.  They turned, raised their hands and called a thank you to everyone and a brief farewell.  A second later they had melted into the impenetrable shadows behind the firework display; and a few moments after that the lights were restored so that the guests could party on…

Out of sight, Snape and Celeste hurried to the other side of the castle.  At the back entrance to the dungeons the carriage was already waiting and two house-elves were talking to the driver.  Once inside Snape’s chambers they changed their clothes and lined up their few pieces of luggage which were already packed.  The elves assisted them to the carriage.

“Thank you Binnie, thank you Tavey” Celeste said.  They seated themselves in the carriage and she held Snape’s hand.  Portugal next stop” she said excitedly as he put his arm around her.

Review

Chapter Eighteen -  Tol Galen

During the following term Snape worked hard on his teaching methods.  He let Celeste sit in on a selection of his classes and when she wasn’t involved in that, she helped McGonagall with administrative work, and covering some of Madeline Black’s Flying Lessons and Quidditch matches.  For the hours she worked Celeste was paid at the trainee teacher rate; her attendances at Snape’s classes were, naturally, unpaid.

Whenever they had time to spare Snape and Celeste scoured the countryside for a house, but nothing suitable was for sale.  They both admired Tol Galen which was a Tudor manor house, three miles beyond Hogsmeade; a timbered structure with a jetted upper storey, herringbone brick infill between the outer timbers, and roof tiles in wonderful shades of warm orange, russet and brown.

“I could make an offer for it” Snape suggested hopefully.

But it’s not for sale” Celeste pointed out.

“Your occasional fondness for stating the obvious ignores the fact that I could still make the owners an offer” he insisted.

“What, just knock on the door and say ‘Can I buy your house?’  If they’re interested they’ll really whack the price up, Severus!”

“Now pay attention, Witch!” he said firmly, taking hold of her shoulders.  “What if they overprice the house by, say, ten percent?  Fifteen even?  We can afford it – if we want too.  Or we can decline.  Nothing would be lost.  What is our money for?  We have more than enough for our needs.  Le me try.  Please Celeste.”  He looked searchingly into her eyes and she could feel herself going weak at the knees – he really wants this, she realised.  “Let me see if they’ll consider it” he continued.  “Anyway, we have yet to view it – we may not like the interior.”

Snape made his offer, was invited to view the property, and on the appointed day they stood outside for some minutes, drinking in the tranquillity of its setting.

“I wonder what the name means?” Celeste said.

“It’s Tolkienish” Snape replied with relish.  “Have you ever read The Lord of the Rings?  No?  The Hobbit?  No?  Well, Tol Galen is explained best in The Silmarillion.  It was the island in the River Adurant in Ossiriand where Beren and Luthien lived after their great and terrible deeds were accomplished.  I think it means Green Place or Green Isle – I’ll look it up when we get home.  The Silmarillion isn’t exactly an easy read, but you should try The Lord of the Rings.  In his teens Voldemort was quite a Tolkien fan – he particularly liked the characters Sauron, Morgoth and Saruman.  You’ll understand why if you read the books.”

The house Tol Galen dated from 1598 and various modifications had been made to it over the centuries.  It had been the original creation of an eccentric wizard called Adrian Aphazzar who thought it amusing to fashion a traditional English half-timbered house in the Scottish Highlands.  It was set on a hillside and had flagstone floors at ground floor level, a wealth of old beams, oak panelling in most rooms, inglenook brick fireplaces, servants’ quarters and even a room that was suitable for a potions laboratory – a semi-basement billiards room where the building cut into the hill.  It had thirty-four acres of grounds which included a sunny patio sheltered by beds of shrubs, a kitchen and herb garden, and a lot of mixed woodland which reached almost up to the house at one point and sprawled away down the gentle hillside towards the distant River Hogg.  The grounds also housed a cesspit and an oil-fired electricity generator, so modern appliances were possible without the need for connections to the mains.  They both fell in love with the house and fought very hard not to appear too anxious to acquire it.

“I must say I have reservations about that roof” Celeste remarked in private to Snape.  “Those clay tiles are lovely, but they are not that heavy.  I’m surprised they stay in place in winter gales.”

“Nevertheless the house is still standing” he replied testily.  “Are you suggesting we replace the roof?”

“Well, stone tiles would be safer” she said, “providing the trusses are strong enough.  If we go ahead we do need a survey.”

The owners of Tol Galen said they would have to think over the Snapes’ initial offer as they had not contemplated moving.  However they were back in touch with Snape and Celeste within a month, quoting an asking price eighteen percent over what Snape and Celeste felt the normal market price should be.  With haggling and a lot of difficulty Celeste negotiated the price down to a fourteen percent excess, at which point Snape indicated to her that, subject to a structural survey, he wanted them to accept.  He felt the house was ideal and couldn’t wait to set up home – his first real home, with his beautiful wife, and the prospect of fatherhood.

The surveyor discovered the roof tiles were laced with spells.  He recommended stone tiles but Celeste admitted they were very taken with the appearance of the clay ones.

“Well if you’re definitely set on keeping these” he said, “and I agree they are very attractive, you could have the edges secured with steel clips.  And definitely have the spells renewed – I’m surprised the roof withstood the 1990 gales.”

Because of the state of the roof Celeste negotiated a further price reduction and then, much to Snape’s relief, the sale went ahead.  Together with six house-elves, they took possession of the house in early February.  The house-elves were salaried and wore a uniform of bottle green with the twin serpent SS insignia.  They were surprised to find their new wizard family were vegetarians; a fact they checked with Celeste.

“Miss, is it right Miss?” Violet said, “that we is not to serve any meat unless you says so?  And we is not to buy toiletries and cleaning things except as you direct?”

“Who told you this?” Celeste enquired, intrigued.

“Master say so, to Basil and Daisy” Violet replied.  “But I say we is to double-check because it is unusual.  And it is you we have to get say-so from.”

Celeste’s mind raced.  “Well – yes” she decided quickly.  “Yes, it is correct.  Your meat will come from Hogallen Farm.  We may at times eat meat, but we will agree the menus with you in advance, so there will be no mistake.  As for cleaning materials, I will give you a list of companies to deal with.  Don’t worry.  It won’t be difficult.”

She then confronted her husband.  “So you’re going vegetarian” she said.  “You dark horse; you didn’t say.”

“Yes, well…” Snape mumbled.  He looked embarrassed.  “I will probably eat meat at school, but I’m giving it up at home.  For you.  We will bring our children up according to this principle.  I will have my way in some things” he assured her hastily, “but I see how important this principle of compassion is to you.”

Celeste hugged him.  “You’re really serious about this, aren’t you” she said.  He wasn’t sure whether she meant giving up meat, starting a family, or simply making their marriage work – in fact she meant it all.

The roof was renovated very promptly.  The wizard roofing firm repaired loose tiles, attended to the charms and clipped the roof edges, colouring the steel clips brown so that they were not noticeable.  Privately, Snape was surprised at how well it turned out.

The move went quite smoothly.  Snape retrieved his furniture from storage and he also took the opportunity to adjust the mirror on his wardrobe door, saying it had been damaged when the contents of the wardrobe were cleared.  Celeste was not convinced; she suspected he had simply had the mirror reattached at a normal height.  However she never challenged his explanation, on the grounds that if he could now bear to look his reflection in the eye, what was the point of making an issue of it?

Being so far north in Britain it was not possible to recreate the open, breezy, sunshiny feel of Celeste’s parents’ Scilly Isles home, but they soon managed to make Tol Galen cosy and inviting; much more homely than Hogwarts’ dungeon rooms.  At last they were able to start to use their wedding presents.  Snape decided the mini hi-fi Sirius Black had given them could go in the bedroom, and out of sheer enthusiasm he got up before half-past seven one gloomy Saturday morning, unearthed both the Black’s presents, and began to set up the hi-fi even before he had finished dressing.  He had brought some CDs from the sitting room where they had been trying them out on the larger hi-fi system Celeste’s parents had given them.  An odd collection of music now lay scattered on top of a chest of drawers, Elvis Presley’s You Are Always on My Mind rubbing shoulders with Vaughan-Williams Greensleeves Fantasia and Ravel’s Bolero.

“You are a nut” Celeste said, watching Snape poring over the instructions and trying to work out which lead went where, as he knelt beside the roaring fire he had kindled.  “Are you going to wear anything other than just a shirt today?  Leave that till later – I’ll help you.”

However, by the time she had showered and was starting to dress Snape had the hi-fi in operation.  He dug out a CD of Chopin’s Impromptus and Nocturnes and, still naked except for his neck cord and unbuttoned shirt, he stared out of the window as the fluid piano playing of Dubravka Tomsic filled the room.

“Ah!  The black satin sheets!” Celeste exclaimed, spying Madeline’s present.  Pulling them out of their cellophane, she shook out a sheet and wound it around her, toga fashion.  “Beautiful aren’t they” she said.  “Real satin, too.  And monogrammed.”  An idea occurred to her.  “Monogrammed!” she repeated.  “Severus, the monogram on these is perfect, exactly right.  Exactly right.  A carbon copy.  How would –?  How would Madeline know about the monogram on your sheets?  Severus?  Severus?”

Snape turned.  He looked at Celeste standing there, looking perplexed and suspicious, wound in black satin; the silver SS serpents clearly visible near the sheet’s corner she was holding.

“I – I don’t know” he said, sounding very uncertain of himself.  “She’s never been in my bedroom.  Celeste, I swear she–  I swear she–  Honestly, I promise you, I have never–”

But his unconvincing protestations tailed off because Celeste couldn’t keep up her look of angry suspicion, and now as she tried to hide her face in the sheet, her shoulders were shaking with suppressed laughter.

“I know” she squeaked eventually.  I gave Madeline one of your towels to copy.  Aah!  Ohrr, sorry!  I couldn’t resist that; you looked so puzzled, and guilty.  I know you have a bit of a yen for Madeline.  I don’t mind.”

“You bitch!” he hissed.  “You witch!  The torment you can put me through.”

In three strides he was in front of her, pulling the sheet gently from her, noticing the way it slid from her skin.  He contemplated tearing it from her, but the fact that it was a present made him act with more care.

“I’ve not seen this before” he remarked, noticing Celeste’s new peach satin cami-knickers.  He ran his fingers over the smoky grey lace edging.

“Well, I have to keep your interest somehow” Celeste replied.

“Oh, you have my interest” Snape assured her.  “Be in no doubt, Madam.  Be–in–no–doubt.”

Reaching behind her head, he grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled, making her face tilt upwards.  Celeste made no protest at this rather harsh gesture; indeed, as he kissed her she shrugged off the thin straps of the cami-knickers, stepped out of the flimsy garment, and folded her arms around him.  Snape bent his head to her breast.

Suddenly he stepped away from her and lay back on the bed.  “Get on top of me” he ordered.  “This, witch, is your punishment for teasing me so much.  I trust you approve of it.”

Fighting hard to keep himself under control, he watched with greedy delight as Celeste knelt astride him and, with growing abandon, took her pleasure from him again and again.

When they finally went down to breakfast Tansy brought Snape and Celeste their morning post.  Snape was surprised to receive anything, and as he opened his letter he realised it was the subscription renewal to his club.  Cautiously he glanced across at Celeste.  He had never told her he was a member of The Mephistophelean; in fact he hadn’t given it much thought for over a year.  He explained what the letter was about and said “I suppose there is no point in renewing.”

Celeste looked at him and thought it over.  “Yes, keep it” she said at last.  “Keep your membership going.”  Seeing his questioning look she added “Severus, you are a very private person.  You’ve lived, in effect, on your own for years.  And been an under-cover agent.  You need a bolt hole.  Hang on to your club membership – I won’t mind.  If we stay in London together, we have The Leaky Cauldron and The Necromancer.  This just gives you a third option if you go there alone.  London does get crowded – it’s probably worth having that club membership.  I bet it’s not that easy to re-join if you leave.  I’ve kept my Muggle address haven’t I, and my bank account and everything.”

He smiled at her.  She understood his insecurity and need for private space.  “You’re not such a bad old witch, sometimes” he acknowledged.  “And what is in your post, Milady?”

“Theatre trips she replied.  “At Easter.  Swan Lake in London and The Magic Flute in Paris.  I’d like to go to one of them.  What do you think?”

“I have no preference” he said.  “I like the music to Swan Lake but I have only seen the ballet once; I don’t know it well.  Choose whichever you prefer.”

“Hmm; I suspect Swan Lake is a bit girly for you” Celeste said, “but no matter, that’s what I’m going to book.  I always look forward to watching whoever performs as Baron Von Rothbart – I always imagine it’s you!”

* * *

Snape enjoyed the privacy a house of his own gave them.  They lived at the castle during weekdays but went home at weekends.  At Tol Galen Snape did not have to worry about sealing his bedchamber against students or being interrupted to deal with some fracas in the common room.  During the Easter holiday he arranged for a triple garage to be built because Celeste decided she wanted at least two, and possibly three cars.

“No, I don’t need a Rolls Royce” she explained.  “But I do want a comfortable saloon car, as – let’s face it – most of the year the weather is not very warm!  And I’d like us to have a sports car for when we do have fine days – just a little something for the two of us.  And since it seems we might have a family, we might need something that can transport a Weasley tribe – we’ll know in the fullness of time.  So adequate housing for three vehicles is what I want.”

“Are you telling me you are pregnant?” Snape said, guarding himself against being too hopeful.

“Mmm.  I do believe I am” she replied, smiling smugly at his look of perplexed joy.

The following December Celeste gave birth to twin boys.  She was half hoping she could have the twins at school, in the hospital wing, surrounded by Poppy Pomfrey and familiar faces she trusted.  But Pomfrey persuaded her to give birth at St Bathild’s.

“It’s your first confinement” she pointed out, “and it looks like it’s going to be twins.  What if you need more than we can do for you here?”

Celeste thought it over.  “Yes.  OK; you’re right” she conceded.  “I know I’m just being selfish.”

“Good.  That’s settled.  Well.  That’s not my only consideration” Pomfrey admitted.  “I just can’t face the thought of Severus pacing about out here as an expectant father.  He’d be even more impossible than ever!”

Both witches found this mental picture highly amusing.

Their suspicions proved correct – Snape was exceedingly on edge while Celeste was in labour.  He made himself so unpopular, he was not allowed into the delivery room for the delivery of the first baby.  But Celeste managed the birth very well and asked for Snape to be present as she felt the second birth underway.  So he was just in time to see his second son being born.  Two days later they were home; all doing very well.

They named the boys Severus Sebastian Salazar and Lucien Alexander Albus.  They were fraternal twins and turned out as different as could be!  Young Severus, who was always known as Sebastian or Sebby (until the birth of the Snape’s first grandson) had black hair, a pale brown complexion and sapphire blue eyes.  He had fine, regular features, a delicately curved version of Snape’s hooked nose, and he was strikingly handsome even from an early age.  He was confident, cunning, ruthless, and charming when it suited him.  He’ll become a dark haired version of Dieter Brandauer, Celeste realised.  At primary school Sebastian tended to bully the other children and a little gang of sycophants formed around him.  This caused his parents to worry about him at times.  He did well at Hogwarts, particularly in Transfiguration, Defence Against the Dark Arts and Arithmancy, but he was a more than adequate potions maker.  He played Chaser for Slytherin and eventually became Hogwarts’ Head Boy.  Like James Potter and Sirius Black, Sebastian never seemed to work hard yet he habitually got good marks.

Snape envied the adolescent Sebastian’s easy self confidence, cruel good looks, effortless success, and success with the girls.  He worried about his lack of scruple; realising he had fathered a true Slytherin.  When Sebastian left Hogwarts, Bill Weasley offered him a well-paid job as a curse breaker for Gringotts Bank.  Sebastian went off to Egypt and they saw little of him for a few years.  Snape had never been very close to him – they were in many ways too much alike and Sebastian possessed the good looks and confidence Snape would have loved to have had.

Lucien was a blue-eyed blond, whom Snape always found much easier to get on with than Sebastian.  Lucien was also handsome, but quiet and unassuming.  He was appropriately named because in appearance he took after his mother and her father, even to the extent of inheriting their straight noses.  When the boys were young they often used to fight, and Snape was surprised at how tough Lucien was.  He could obviously take care of himself; he just wasn’t one for bragging or showing off.  He was an intellectual boy who worked with great conscientiousness and application.  He went into Ravenclaw House and got excellent examination results, particularly in Arithmancy, History of Magic and Muggle Studies.  He had Snape’s fussy meticulousness and Celeste’s love of discovering how the world functioned, but whereas she applied it to mechanics Young Lucien applied his mind to legislation.  A gifted linguist, he became a successful lawyer at The Court of International Magical Law.  His grandfather Lucien used to enjoy conversing with him in French.  Young Lucien wasn’t often persuaded to sing, but he had a fine baritone voice.

At the age of twenty-nine ‘Young’ Lucien shocked the whole family by marrying a witch some thirteen years his senior – the languorously beautiful Jasmina Lestrange.  Jasmina was the daughter of the notorious and now deceased Death Eater couple who had spent many years in Azkaban.  Snape remembered them well and he also remembered Jasmina from school; she had been in his House, joining Hogwarts the year Celeste arrived as a trainee.  As she matured, Jasmina had become powerful and alluring, but aloof, and in those days she never looked happy.  Snape thought her a strange choice for Lucien, but when he voiced his concerns, Celeste reminded him that her mother had had reservations about him.

“We cannot understand the choices of our children” she said.  “If she is the one who stirs his soul then no one else will do.”

Thirteen months after she had produced the twin boys, Celeste gave birth to fraternal twin girls.  She again went to St Bathild’s and this time Snape was present at both births.  The first baby was delivered easily, but the second was a little larger and a good deal heavier.  Celeste had to work extremely hard and was exhausted from the effort.  After the birth she spent three weeks in hospital resting and recovering.  Snape looked after his infant sons at home; refusing Aurora’s offers of help.  Fortunately there was only two days to go until the end of term so Dumbledore readily let him have time off.  Sirius Black deputised as Slytherin’s House Master, for which Snape was very grateful – it saved him from having Aurora under his roof.

The girls were as different from each other as the boys had been.  The first born, Eleanor Augusta Camilla was pale skinned, and had black hair and eyes as dark as Snape’s.  She also had a delicately curved version of his hooked nose.  Eleanor turned into a quiet, obedient child, devoted to her father and fanatically hard working; discretely conscientious rather like Lucien.  She excelled in Potions and Herbology, and got very good academic results.  Snape was exceptionally proud and fond of her, regarding her as a non-bossy version of Hermione Granger.  Eleanor became Head Girl the year after Sebastian was Head Boy.  The parallels with Hermione were strengthened when on leaving school she trained as a teacher at Beauxbaton.  But on completing her training she married – unexpectedly – a Mediwizard by the name of Augustus Cirell.  Within eleven months of her marriage she gave birth to a girl, Camilla Celestine Estelle; and a year later she produced a boy Sebastian Augustus Salazar.  Snape was always faintly surprised that the Sorting Hat had put Eleanor into Slytherin – she was not noticeably ambitious, nor cunning; perhaps her cleverness lay in being able to conceal a cunning nature.  She had grown into a dark beauty, with black hair, black eyes, a slim lovely face, and a reserved nature which concealed a strand of good-humoured fun.

When, in the delivery room, he saw Eleanor’s sister emerge, Snape knew Aurora Lavelle had been reborn.  They named their second daughter Guinevere Aurora Leander and she was usually known as Guinny.  She was golden blonde, but curiously had Snape’s dark eyes.  Strong, muscular and a great flyer, Guinevere was a natural choice for Beater for the Slytherin Quidditch team.  She was a fearless, almost reckless player.  Slytherin won the Quidditch cup five years running when Sebastian and Guinevere were in the team.  Snape considered her recklessness to be something of a Gryffindor quality but he could see that his second daughter was, like Sebastian, a true Slytherin.  She had her mother’s physical strength and flying ability taken to excess, and her grand mother Aurora’s smug ruthlessness.  She also had – although Snape would never admit it – a good deal of his spitefulness.  Snape loved her and worried about her, but even Celeste admitted that she was a difficult girl to like.

Before she left Hogwarts, Guinny was approached to play for The Glencarrick Grondhammers.  Celeste and Snape were, on balance, relieved when she accepted because Guinny was fairly hopeless academically, and they had no idea what she would do with her life.  They had frequent rows with her about her attitude.  She was a clever girl who excelled only at sports and putting hexes on people, but had no ability to apply herself to serious study.  They were happier when she went on to play Beater for the England International Team – the Grondhammers had a bit of a reputation for dirty tactics.

“What on Earth possessed us to give her the stately name of Guinevere?” Snape said.  “We ought to have called her Mathilda or Hildegard.  When I see her smashing her way around a Quidditch pitch I know how Wagner must have pictured the Valkyrie.”

Two months after the twin girls were born Celeste discovered that she was pregnant again.  It wasn’t planned, and Snape was furious with himself for letting it happen.  He was also very worried, and was even wondering if Celeste should consider undergoing a termination.

“It’s too soon after having the girls” he said.  “That last pregnancy brought you very low – you still need to build up your strength.”

“I’ll be alright” she said reassuringly.

But Snape was not reassured.  He was guilty that they had resumed intercourse so soon, instead of relying on other methods to please each other.  And he was secretly terrified that Celeste might die in labour – his old subconscious fear about losing the important women in his life was resurfacing.

“I was very selfish” he admitted.  “I’ll never forgive myself if your health suffers.”

“It won’t.  I’ll be fine.  Anyway, I’m just as much to blame” Celeste reminded him, remembering how much she had longed for their lovemaking to be resumed, and how she had foolishly insisted she could not conceive because she was still breast-feeding.

“Then how about a wet-nurse for the girls?” he suggested.  “Yes, I know it’s old fashioned, Celeste, but look at that great lump Guinevere you are having to nourish.  Be sensible.”

But Celeste was adamant – she would certainly not entertain the idea of a termination and she did not want a wet-nurse.  Stubborn as ever, she wanted to manage everything herself and wean the girls when she was ready.  Snape was beside himself with worry when eight months later she went into labour, even though during her pregnancy he had bolstered her health and strength with every potion he could devise.  He insisted she go to St Bathild’s again in case there were any complications – he had a very bad feeling about the birth and he wanted all the experts on hand.

The labour went exceptionally smoothly and within quite a short time Celeste gave birth to a single beautiful baby girl.  She was of average birth weight; a serene child with a wisp of red hair and large emerald eyes.

“Well, that’s it” Celeste said firmly as she cradled the new baby.  “No more babies.  Five is enough.  One more and we’ll equal the Weasley’s, which you jokingly said you didn’t want.”

“I honestly don’t mind” Snape murmured dreamily as he gazed at his new daughter.  “As long as you are well and as long as the babies are healthy, you can have as many children as you please.  Providing we leave a sensible gap between them.”

They named their third daughter Miranda Fabienne Cassandra.  She matured into a strikingly beautiful witch, with dark red hair and arresting green eyes reminiscent of Lily Evans and Snape’s mother Miranda.  Her willowy grace also reminded Snape of his mother.  In moments of self-mockery he used to refer to her eyes as ‘Harry Potter eyes’.  Snape was as fond of her as he was of Eleanor – Miranda could manipulate him unmercifully if she wished.  She was unquestionably a Gryffindor – the Sorting Hat cried out the name before it touched her head, just as it had yelled Slytherin when it approached Sebastian.  Young Miranda wasn’t exceptionally academic but she had a similarly natural ability for magic as Sebastian exhibited.  Charms and Transfiguration were her best subjects, but she didn’t have a bad subject.  Although she had no obvious gift for divination, Miranda had a mystical quality reminiscent of her great uncle Fabien.  She also had a good singing voice – mezzo soprano, like her mother.  On leaving Hogwarts, Miranda trained to be a teacher and took up a post as Transfiguration Professor at Sienna.

Review

Author's Note: For an explanation of the name Tol Galen see The Silmarillion by J R R Tolkien.

 Chapter Nineteen -The Maturing Years

When the children were of Primary School age Celeste was employed as Administration Officer at Hogwarts.  Muggle children at the Primary School though the Snape children a bit strange.  The teachers attributed this to the fact that they were very precocious and obviously came from a wealthy family.  They had lots of interesting holidays and many theatre and museum trips.  Paradoxically their home did not have television, nor a computer, nor a land-line telephone, but the Snape children were adept at using mobile phones.  They also had a large indoor playroom, adapted from their nursery and apparently they were allowed to roller skate on its wooden floor.  It seemed their parents didn’t mind about such things – the Snapes were strict and old-fashioned, but also surprisingly liberal in some ways.

The strange Snape family lived many miles away, and the beautiful ‘Mrs’ Snape drove her children to and from school each day in a black Mercedes Traveliner 8-seater vehicle; which, in private, Primary School staff jokingly referred to as ‘the hearse’.  Mysteriously, however bad the weather, the vehicle’s paintwork was always spotless, as was its grey velour upholstery.  The Primary School staff only ever saw the enigmatic ‘Mister’ Snape four times.  He managed to get time off work to attend the school's Christmas Carol Concert on three occasions.  Invariably the weather was bad and he was always muffled up in rather theatrical clothes – a black floppy brimmed hat, a Regency style russet brown riding coat with a ‘cape’ top, and long, supple, Cavalier-style boots.  He had a supercilious air, and hardy spoke to anyone.  He also had an impressive baritone singing voice.  They understood he was some sort of biochemist, or possibly a lecturer in pharmacy – they weren’t exactly sure, it was never made totally clear and strangely no one ever remembered to ask.

As well as coming to the Carol Concerts, Mrs Snape always attended the school’s Sports Days and she usually won the parents races.  Mr Snape managed to attend once, but only as a spectator.  He looked markedly different from his winter appearances – he wore an immaculate cream shirt over smart camel coloured jeans, and a piece of amber hung from a thin brown suede cord around his neck.  Despite his laid-back appearance, he was still as supercilious as ever, and smiled grimly when two of his children – ‘the awful Sebastian and Guinevere’ – won all of their events.  He hugged his wife and laughed darkly when she won the parents sack, and egg-and-spoon races.  They seemed a most devoted couple.

During their Primary School years Celeste taught the children to be adequate swimmers, and she arranged for them to have horse riding lessons at Hogallen Farm.  She also gave them an introduction to sailing during short stays at Isle San Pareil.

At Tol Galen the Snape garage was usually home to a luxury saloon car, a two-seater sports car and the Mercedes Traveliner 2.3 litre diesel people-carrier.  For her saloon car Celeste tried a Rover 800, and then a Rover 75, but finally switched to a Jaguar X-Type 3 litre, because its 4-wheel drive provided superb handling on snowy roads so she didn’t have to bother with charms to improve the traction.  Her sports cars were invariably MGs or classic Austin Healeys, usually repainted in shades of metallic green.  The saloon cars were almost always silver.

Snape enjoyed being driven about the country lanes in the little sports cars, but he appreciated the warmth and comfort of the saloon cars when they went on longer journeys or when the weather was inclement.  Except on family outings and holidays, he rarely travelled in the people-carrier, viewing it as merely a utility vehicle.

Snape and Celeste travelled miles on fine weekends and on holidays.  Over the many decades that they lived together she enabled him to discover Scotland, the Lake District, the Farne Islands, the Derbyshire Peak District, the Malvern and Cotswold Hills and the Welsh mountains.  Celeste introduced him to ‘chocolate box’ English villages, handsome Medieval and Tudor town centres, elegant Georgian cities and panoramic countryside.  She already knew England quite well; they discovered Scotland and Wales together.  Snape became very adept at coping in a Muggle environment.

* * *

In the year 2013 Celeste was appointed to Hogwarts’ Professorship of Arithmancy and Ancient Runes.  Although they didn’t enjoy having both parents as lecturers, most of the Snape children did very well when they went to Hogwarts.  Ginny had the capability to do better – as ever, her problems mainly related to her poor attitude and malicious temperament.

Since their first year together, Snape’s Potions exam pass rates improved steadily and he was soon the equal of McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout.  The ‘irascible wizard’ had finally matured.  Potions lessons rose in popularity at Hogwarts, and many more students opted to take it at NEWT level as well as at OWL.  More than once McGonagall and Dumbledore discussed this remarkable upturn, and they began to plan for the future.

In 2021 Dumbledore celebrated his one hundred-and-eightieth birthday and he decided to retire.  Snape told McGonagall he would apply for the Headship and also register his interest for the Deputy position, should it become available.  He explained that he did not expect to get the Headship, nor did he deliberately want to challenge any application she might intend to make, but he felt it was politic to show his interest in any possible career advancement.  McGonagall warned him that she certainly intended to apply for the Headship.

McGonagall was appointed Headmistress and Snape became Deputy Head, still retaining Potions and the Headship of his House.  A month later Sirius Black was appointed Professor of Transfiguration and Head of Gryffindor House.  McGonagall advertised the Defence Against the Dark Arts vacancy and appointed Gabrielle Delacour.

The new teaching team worked together for six, surprisingly harmonious, years, at the end of which McGonagall retired.  She and Dumbledore finally married and set up home in Dartmoor.  Gabrielle Delacour also left Hogwarts because she wanted to start a family.  Both Snape and Sirius Black applied for the Headship of Hogwarts.  Snape was appointed Headmaster and Black his Deputy.  This left vacancies for Defence Against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Head of Slytherin House.  Two Professors from Durmstrang were the successful applicants for these – Draco Malfoy and his wife Hermione, formerly Hermione Granger.  Draco got the Potions position with Head of Slytherin – an ideal job for him.  Hermione was appointed to Defence Against the Dark Arts – she was such an accomplished all-rounder that apart from Divination she could have taught anything.  Hermione impressed Snape at her interview – she wasn’t the bossy know-it-all she had been as a child; the witch that now presented herself was still clearly intelligent, but quietly knowledgeable, supportive and reliable.  She reminded him in some ways of Celeste.  On receiving confirmation of their appointments, the Malfoy couple immediately set about looking for a modest house in Hogsmeade large enough to accommodate their three children.

So the year 2027 saw the birth of Snape’s first grandchild and his appointment as Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  He was seventy-two, which is middle aged for a wizard.  He was the youngest Headmaster Hogwarts had ever had.

The new teaching team worked very well together.  Hermione had indeed changed since her school days, but not as much as her husband, Draco Malfoy!  Snape finally came to realise how much the arrest and imprisonment of Draco’s Death Eater father had made an impact upon the former pupil – he was no longer overtly big headed and he was fairly conscientious and reasonably co-operative, even with non-Slytherins.  In part, Draco took his cue from Snape, noticing how he and Black had risen above past differences in order to foster a good working relationship.  But in part he had already crafted much of his transformation, turning from snooty show-off into a hard-working young man who was finally able to woo the talented Hermione Granger and persuade that gifted witch to become his wife.  Snape often puzzled about this.  He was tempted to think that Draco had been so cunning in hiding his bedrock attitudes that it proved what a true Slytherin he was.  When he once made some throw-away comment that, given the hostility of their schooldays, Hermione was not the most obvious choice of partner for Draco, his new Head of Slytherin merely replied,

“Well, we were only children in those days, Headmaster.  Through those seven years we had the ultimate love/hate relationship.  I detested Hermione at first, and I’m sure she loathed me.  Then at the 1994 World Cup I actually found myself worrying that she might get attacked.  And when, some months later, I saw her dancing with victor Krum my eyes were opened to how attractive she was.  But I kept reminding myself that she wasn’t pureblood.  That, and inherited wealth were always my stumbling-blocks.  It was only much, much later, when I was thinking about who might be the mother of my children that Hermione repeatedly haunted my thoughts.  She wasn’t high-born, she didn’t have money, but she does have intellect, common sense, high standards, and the heart of a lion.  Not a bad dowry.  Don’t ask me why she chose me.  I think she eventually gave up hating me and began to feel sorry for me, certainly once my father was arrested.”

Snape merely nodded, recognising that there was possibly some faint parallel between Hermione’s feelings for Draco and Lily’s for himself.  Nevertheless, he still thought Draco exceptionally successful in his deviousness!

* * *

In the following year Celeste’s father, Lucien Lavelle, died, a month after his eighty-eighth birthday.  He was buried at sea in accordance with his instructions – he and Aurora wanted no grave.  Out of respect for the family’s wishes for a very modest funeral, only Aurora, Celeste, Snape, Fabien and Dumbledore attended.  Snape stood rigidly, grasping Celeste’s hand and gazing sorrowfully at the slim body lying in repose beneath a powder blue cloth.  Concealed by the drapery, Lucien’s remains were wound in unbleached calico and expertly weighted with rocks.  Snape felt he was losing a father; he grieved at the passing of Lucien.  Fabien spoke the funeral oration.

Since the Easter of 1999, Lucien’s health had markedly improved, and from the time he met Snape in the following July he had never needed to return to St Mungo’s.  Fabien had always sensed this would be so (or, more accurately, he had foreseen it) – he knew that Snape and Celeste would be a powerful combination, good for each other and good for others too.  Snape worked hard and successfully on various potions to help Lucien to relax and cope with his traumatic memories.  For ethical reasons Lucien rejected at the outset Snape’s plan to use a potion containing salamander blood, so over the years the Master of Potions experimented with combinations of horn shavings from Swedish Short-Snout dragons, strands of kelpie mane and phoenix tears, always in combination with lavender flowers.  He discovered that a single Alihotsy leaf was an acceptable alternative to salamander blood.  But his most successful potion contained Short-Snout horn shavings, kelpie mane, and, when he could get it, the residual ash from a phoenix burning day.

Lucien was able to ‘forgive’ Snape for being a Death Eater, and this also did much to help him to come to terms with his torturers.  Aurora was aware of this and so was Celeste, but Aurora would never give Snape any credit for the healing he achieved.  Although always civil to her son-in-law, she carried her resentment and distrust of him to the grave.  Conversely, Celeste’s devotion and admiration for Snape knew no bounds, and, although there was no obvious rift in the family, she never forgave her mother for her unbending attitude.

Following Lucien’s death, Aurora lived alone on Isle Sans Pareil until her own death two years later.  She was ninety-five years old – exceptionally young for a witch.  She missed Lucien very much, and grief for him shortened her life.  It was the house-elves that discovered Aurora’s body.  She was sitting in the sunshine on the bench by the pond in the lush and fragrant bower she had created for her husband.  The attendees at her funeral were Celeste, Snape, Fabien and Dumbledore, and once again it was a sea burial.  Celeste, standing tall and in control, spoke the funeral oration.

Celeste inherited her parent’s island and the Snapes retained it as a second home.  It was to become, many decades later, Celeste and Snape’s main retirement home.

* * *

After the tragic outcome of the 1995 tournament, Dumbledore and the Department for International Magical Co-operation had worked hard to try re-instigate the Tri-Wizard Tournament as a regular event, but their early attempts were dogged by war with Voldemort.  The original plan had been to restore the contest to its 5-yearly cycle, but in practice this never worked.  Setting his sights a little lower, Dumbledore had hoped there could be a repeat event at least every seven years so that all the students could experience one during their school life.  However even this timetable proved too challenging at first – following the 1995 tournament, the next one did not take place until 2003.  Only from then did the seven year pattern hold – Beauxbaton won in 2010, repeating its success of 2003, Durmstrang won in 2017 and Beauxbaton again in 2024.  However in 2031 the victory went to Hogwarts, and Snape, now Headmaster, was able to bask in the glory.

Review

 

- Snape Family Tree -
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 Chapter Twenty -Gifts of Inheritance

As Snape sat musing over his life, in the room that had grown gradually hotter and stuffier, a chestnut-haired witch poked her head around the door.  She was a strong, muscular woman in her mid fifties; a woman dressed in green and with mischievous hazel eyes.  Diamonds and an emerald sparkled in a broad platinum ring on her finger.

“So this is where you’re hiding” Celeste exclaimed.  “Are you coming down?  They’ll be back soon.”  She walked over to the window to push it open further, her summer sandals resounding on the close-boarded floor.  “Funny how we never got round to taking these bars down” she mused, as she stared down through the iron rungs to the garden below.  “We still kept this as a nursery and then a playroom, even though we didn’t have any more.”

Snape came over to her and slid his arms around her slender waste.  He nestled his chin against her neck.  “Shall we start again?” he asked.

“Oh my goodness, no!” Celeste exclaimed in horror, turning in the circle of his arms.  “All that potty training, and teething.  All those nappies!  I don’t mind practicing” she added meaningfully, snaking her body against him, “but no more babies.  Grandchildren are fine – at least the window bars now stop them falling through.”

They kissed, and he held her body hard against his.  Finally they managed to break apart.  “Come on” she said reluctantly.  “We mustn’t let our kids catch us making love in our old nursery, even if this is our thirty-second anniversary!”

They walked hand-in-hand down through the house and out into the garden.  Birdsong and the perfume of lavender filled the air, as butterflies busied themselves about the last of the buddleia blooms.  Celeste sat under a sun umbrella, flicking through a copy of Witch Weekly, while Snape dragged his favourite sun-lounger into the shade and lay dozing, remembering that on the previous day they had lain on this patio in absolute privacy – Celeste had given him a full-body massage, and they had then made love in the open air, rather unsteadily and therefore with much hilarity, on this very sun-lounger.  Ah, the joys of having no children at home, he sighed.

At length they could hear the shouts of children coming through the trees.  A voice was yelling ‘Granddad, Granddad’ and Celeste could see Snape pretending to be asleep.  His four year old granddaughter, Camilla – always known as Milly – rushed up and tugged the sleeve of his bright, buttercup-gold, shirt.

“Granddad!” she persisted breathlessly, “I’ve got some nice leaves!”  Snape made no answer, so she climbed onto his lap, taking great care not to scuff his grey jeans – she knew how particular he was about his clothes.  “Come ON Granddad; wake up!” she squeaked.  She shook his hand, watching reflections flash from his garnet ring.  Then, to Celeste’s amusement, she lifted the piece of amber on the cord around his neck and let it fall like a door knocker against his sternum.

Suddenly, with a roar like an angry lion, Snape opened his eyes wide and lunged his head towards her, making her shriek and draw back.  He caught her in his arms and they both laughed – it was a game they often played.  “Where are these leaves?” Snape demanded at length, examining her hands.  “Ah, borage!”

“Borago officinalis” the precocious child proclaimed, showing him the stems in her hot little hand.

“Quite correct” he replied.  “Two house points.”

He looked about the patio in case she had brought anything else.  Camilla was inclined to collect anything she thought interesting or useful for making a potion.  Since she had been a toddler they had been treated to worms, leaves, berries, caterpillars, twigs, fungi and even small spiders resulting from her forest jaunts.  Snape, Celeste and Camilla’s parents had spent hours trying to explain that some plants and animals are dangerous, but Camilla was a stubborn child – she had assumed some degree of caution, but only bitter experience had taught her that nettles sting and brambles are prickly.

Hot and weary from their forest stroll, the rest of the family caught up with Camilla.  Her mother Eleanor, the girl in the dark red dress, was holding the hand of ‘Young Sebby’ – her little son Sebastian.  Miranda, cool and graceful in a tie-dyed cotton dress of burnt orange, walked beside them.  A few paces behind, Eleanor’s husband was deep in conversation with his brother in law Sebastian.  Trailing behind them, hand in hand, were Lucien and Jasmina.

They flopped into chairs or onto sun loungers, as a house-elf in a bottle green T-shirt and shorts brought a tray of iced juices and two different tonic drinks Snape had made from Sage and Yellow gentian leaves.  He always kept a stock of herbal tonics in the kitchen refrigerator during the summer, because they were refreshing to drink on their own, or they could be mixed with spirits.  Gratefully the group helped themselves to refreshments.  Young Sebby asked if he could try some of the tonic.

“Yes, if you really want to” Snape replied.  “But you may find it too bitter, young man.  Just try a little–  Hmm” he exclaimed, surprised at Sebby's calm reaction to the bitter sage tonic.  “Would you like me to show you how I make it?”

“Erm, I’d like to see where the plants grow” Young Sebastian said cautiously.  He loved Tol Galen’s herb garden and was always trying to sneak into it.  Originally it had been open as the rest of the grounds were, but once the Snapes had started to cultivate dangerous plants such as Tansy and Aconite they had walled off the herb and kitchen garden, and kept the black iron gate sealed with a spell.

“I’ll take you in there, later” Celeste promised.  “I need to get some salad burnet and bogbean.  You can help me pick it.”

Camilla was hard at work persuading Snape to take her to his laboratory so that they could stew her leaves to make a potion.  Whereas Young Sebby liked the walled garden, Snape’s laboratory was Camilla’s favourite room.  Snape took endless pains with her, introducing the little child to the rudiments of potion making.  He was very proud of her – her dogged application to work reminded him of her mother, but Camilla’s boundless self-confidence enabled her to be far more inquisitive and experimental than Eleanor had been at that age.  Celeste and Eleanor both suspected she would turn out to be very like Hermione Granger, but as Camilla was Snape’s granddaughter he pooh-poohed this notion.

Eleanor, meanwhile was laughing at Snape’s ‘two house points’ remark.  “I think Milly’s earned more than that” she remarked.  “Knowing Borago officinalis at her age!  I never, ever got less than five from you, Father.  For real, I mean – at school.”

“You were always such a goody-goody!” Sebastian jeered.

“Yes, but do you remember when I lost ten!” Eleanor reminded him with a sudden look of horror.  “TEN!  So did you!  In one go!  It was unheard of for me!”

“Oh, yeah” Sebastian chuckled, thinking back to his late teen years.  “That was the night we got caught cooking a fry-up in the common room.”

I never knew about this” Lucien exclaimed.

“No, well you weren’t meant to.  Nobody was” Eleanor said with a sheepish look at her father.

“You were in Ravenclaw, Lucien!” Jasmina reminded him.  “If this was a Slytherin embarrassment you can be sure it would not be mentioned beyond the common room.”

“Exactly so” Eleanor agreed.  “Only Mum and Dad knew.  We were doing a stir-fry late at night over the common room fire.  Someone stole a cooking pan and tried to charm it into a wok.  Sebastian did the stir fry from vegetables and herbs that had also been ‘acquired’.  Soy sauce was called for, but the kitchens didn’t have any.  We didn’t know how to make it, so I made up this concoction from Marmite and lemon juice and goodness know what else; dittany and vlox root were part of it.”

“It tasted really good!” Sebastian grinned.  “And we were all tucking in when Dad turned up.  God he was cross!”

“And not without good reason” Snape growled.  “Your mother and I could smell Chinese herbs all through the dungeons – in the Potions classroom, in my office, in our sitting room.  Even in our bedroom!  It’s a wonder Albus couldn’t smell them in his office.  My office.  Ohrr Sebastian, you really were the limit.  I had hopes of you being Head Boy the following year–”

“Which I was–” Sebastian tried to say, pretending to sound hurt.

“Which, time after time, you nearly blew!” Snape roared.  “And Eleanor!  I had never known you to misbehave so.”

“Well, losing twenty points between you wasn’t the end of the world” Miranda pointed out.

“No, but Dad took ten each from Sebby and me as the ringleaders, and two each from everyone else there!” Eleanor explained.  “I think we lost Slytherin thirty-two in all.  We weren’t very popular with the rest of House.”

“And we lost the House Cup to Ravenclaw that year” Snape pointed out acidly.  “I should have taken more from you, but I was concerned about the cup.  Stealing from the kitchens.  Wrecking a cooking pot.  Messing around at midnight.  You couldn’t have done that in the years Voldemort was on the loose.”

Sebastian was doubled up with laughter as he remembered that no one could get the cooking pan back into shape.  “But we won you the Quidditch Cup, Dad” he chuckled.  “We always got you that.”

“That is true” Snape conceded.  He grinned and looked suddenly at Eleanor.  “Marmite, lemon juice and dittany?” he asked gleefully.

“And vlox root; yes.  Actually, it was pretty good” she beamed.  She loved cooking and experimenting with ingredients.  Snape did too.  Once he and Celeste had acquired Tol Galen, during their school holidays he would often ‘mess about’ in the kitchen with the two elf cooks, working out new recipes for food and drinks.

“Oh, how Minerva would have wagged her finger at you if she’d known about it!” Celeste said.  “She always suspected you tweaked things in Slytherin’s favour whenever you could.”

Me tweak things?” Snape bridled.  “If I remember rightly she was the one who was responsible for getting Harry Potter a Nimbus 2000 – best broom available at the time.  And he played for his House team in his first year!”  Snape tried to suppress a ripple of a dark smile.  “I never saw any reason to let Slytherin miss out.  If in doubt, award a point or two – after all, no one else was going to go out of their way to give us anything.”

“If in doubt, knock a point or two off the others” Sebastian murmured philosophically, nodding in agreement.

“Don’t forget my leaves, Granddad” Camilla piped up.

“Oh I give in” Snape sighed.  “I can see I’m not going to get any peace until Milly has done something with these leaves.  If you will excuse me I will see you all later.  Sebby, are you coming too?”

“No thank you, Grandfather” Young Sebastian replied in the extra-polite manner he was always careful to use when speaking to Snape.  “I’m going to the herb garden, aren’t I.”

“Yes, of course you are” Snape agreed, and holding Camilla’s hand he set off in the direction of the potions laboratory, walking slowly so that the little girl could keep pace with him.

Snape took her via the kitchen as they would need a couple of lemons and a bottle of white wine.  In the potions laboratory he kept a close eye on Camilla.  They began by washing their hands and the borage plants.

“This is not going to be a potion, Milly” he explained, “but if all goes according to plan we are going to end up with a very pleasant summer drink – a ‘cool tankard’ it is sometimes called.  Unfortunately for you, you won’t be able to have any because it is going to contain wine, but we will let you know how good it is.”  He smiled at her downcast face.  “Now, Milly” he added encouragingly, “can you find us a size one cauldron, a chopping block, a wooden spoon, and a two-pint measuring jug?”

While she was hunting for those, Snape gathered together a sharp knife, a jar of sugar, a jar of dried Billywig stings, a large pair of tweezer-like forceps, and kitchen scales.  The scales were cast iron and brass – a souvenir from a holiday in Ironbridge.  When everything was assembled Snape cut the fruits in half and then helped Camilla to slice each piece, his wand at the ready in case she cut herself.  He also let her strip the leaves from the plant stalks.

“Now we will weigh the leaves” he explained.  “I think you have, at most, a couple of ounces here, but we may as well check.”

Under his expert eye Camilla weighed the leaves and noted the weight he told her to write down.  He then helped her to weigh out an ounce of sugar and to fill the jug one quarter full with water.  Snape checked her quantities, fine tuning them where necessary; then he let her fill the cauldron with the water, sliced fruit and sugar.

“Very good.  Carefully cut the leaves across” he instructed.  “That will release the juices from the veins quite quickly.  Then the cut leaves must go immediately into the cauldron; don’t delay.  That’s right.  Now; take the forceps and try to pick out one Billywig sting.  Just one – or we will all be floating on the ceiling.  Yes, I thought you’d find that funny.”

Camilla found it too difficult to pick up a single dried sting, so Snape tipped a tiny heap of stings onto a piece of parchment and let her extract one from the heap.  He then returned the excess to the jar and watched her add the sting to the cauldron.

“That’s right.  Good girl” he continued.  “Now we let this simmer for twenty minutes.  And after that it must cool.  I will heat it; you can stir.”

He used a spell to heat the cauldron and Camilla stirred it carefully.

“We can leave this to simmer now” he said.  “If it cools too much I will give it a blast – you’ll like that, wont you.  Meanwhile, Milly, you find us a sieve and a funnel, and I’ll find us a carafe.”

While they were working, Celeste let Young Sebastian into the potions laboratory.  “It’s far too hot in the garden” she explained.  “Can Sebby join you?”

“Of course” Snape replied.  “Sebby, help Milly find a sieve…”

When the twenty minutes had elapsed Snape used a further spell to speed the cooling process and helped Camilla to strain the liquid into the carafe – a very difficult process which was half Camilla’s own efforts but buoyed up with her grandfather’s levitation charm.  Then he uncorked the wine and she was allowed to add that.  Again, it was a tricky operation for a four-year-old, and, despite the funnel she spilt a little, but without condemnation he employed his wand to clear the spillage; a process both children enjoyed watching.  Snape stored the carafe in his laboratory fridge and they began the not so interesting process of clearing up.

*

Meanwhile, the patio grew very hot as the afternoon progressed and Celeste encouraged her children to move into the sitting room.  She knew that, living as they did in Egypt and Italy, Sebastian and Miranda were used to the sun, but she still thought too much exposure dangerous.  Miranda tended to freckle rather than tan, and even dark-haired Eleanor did not tan very well.  She had her father’s sallow complexion, and – that aside – the whole family had been brought up in a cold climate.  These sunny summer days were few.

All the windows of the house were open and most doors were propped open, so the sitting room was comfortably breezy.  Eleanor and Jasmina started a game of chess, but the others were content to chat and brows through photograph albums.

“Hey, look at this” Sebastian cried.  “That’s when we went on that canal holiday.  Remember Luce?”

Lucien did remember it.  It was the summer before they had started at Hogwarts and they had taken a Narrow Boat along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, because Celeste wanted them to learn something of the history of Muggle technology.  Guinny and the two boys had thoroughly enjoyed operating the locks and discovering why the canal had been built and how it had been used.  Snape and Miranda were less keen, and it was certainly not Eleanor’s idea of a holiday.

“I remember that” she called out.  “It was awful – hard work, messy and wet.  Yuk!  Was it the previous year we went on those steam trains?  Across the Ribblehead Viaduct, and all that stuff?”

“Yes; Settle to Carlisle” Celeste said.  “Steam Nostalgia, the trips were called.  I found out about them from Clement Flitwick’s internet access.”

“That was much better, that holiday” Eleanor said.  “The train carriages were so stylish, and the countryside was beautiful.”

“That’s because there was glass between you and it” Sebastian pointed out acidly.

It was true.  Eleanor loved comfort.  Her notion of a proper holiday was to stay in a hotel of at least a three star designation.  Hot and cold running water were her idea of life’s absolute essentials.

“We had some great holidays” Lucien said, looking over Sebastian’s shoulder as he slowly turned the album’s pages.  “Ironbridge.  Remember the iron bridge?  And the Hay Inclined Plane?”

“And the Victorian Tile Exhibition” Eleanor chimed in.  “Check” she added softly.

“Oh look, Portugal” Miranda exclaimed.  “Remember that beach – shrimping in those little pools?  And sailing?”

“That’s where your father and I went on honeymoon” Celeste said wistfully.  “We had that same cottage – oooh, about – seven or eight year earlier than what you’re looking at now.  Four days we stayed there; just messing about on the beach and on the water.  And when it got too hot we had the wooded hillside.  He read me poetry – Keats and Byron.  Shakespeare’s sonnets–  Yes, I know you all think it’s funny.  But your father has an amazing voice.  He’s quite a romantic on the quiet.  Oooh, Prague.  This is Prague!  We went there the following year.  I was pregnant with you two.”

“Oh, that’s why I recognise it” Sebastian sniggered.

Eventually Miranda gave up looking over Sebastian’s shoulder at the holiday albums and found her parents wedding photographs.  Jasmina, who had lost her game to Eleanor, came to sit beside her.  She easily recognised Alicia Spinnet who now performed under the stage name of Eshmoon.  She recognised, too, all the people she was at school with, but there were quite a few faces she didn’t know at all.  Celeste leant over and pointed them out.

“That’s Neville Longbottom with Ginny Weasley, Charlie and Bill’s sister.  They got married the following year; same year as Charlie and Amanda.  There’s Charlie and Amanda.  That’s Harry and his girl friend Cho.  She was his girl friend then – their wedding photo is on the sideboard over there.  Erm, you’ll know those four” she added, pointing to the Lavells talking to Albus and Minerva.  “Oh, and my Uncle Fabien you know.  That’s Septimus Peor, my House Master with his partner, Remus Lupin – they both teach at Beauxbaton.  (Lucien caught Sebastian’s eye but said nothing, and Celeste continued, unaware.)  Professor Flitwick’s brother Clement – he and Felix did the fireworks and helped a lot to organise the musical instrumentation.  We had an orchestra and a rock band – there they are, Ravelin.  One of the three singers was a Hogwarts old boy.  And Alicia of course everyone knows – she’s and ex-pupil too.  There’s Madeline and Sirius, jiving – ye gods they were boisterous in those days…!”

The afternoon wore on and Celeste realised it was time for tea.  She shepherded her flock to the dining room where high tea awaited them.  Having finally managed to root Snape and both grandchildren out of the potions laboratory where they were, as she put it ‘just messing around’, she also retrieved the ‘cool tankard’ from the fridge and took it to the dining room, but the grandchildren took her attention and it was put aside onto the sideboard.  Subsequent tea-time conversations drove it from her mind…

As they began to eat, Sebastian said he had some news.

“I’m giving up the bank” he told them.  “Yep, it’s true” he insisted as they all stared at him, open mouthed.  “I’ve accepted a teaching post at Durmstrang – Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

Snape’s asparagus quiche slid of his fork in surprise.  “But you’re not trained?” he snapped.

“Doesn’t matter – they still offered it to me” Sebastian said carelessly, as if determined to rile his father.

Snape gave him a look of stern disapproval.  “There’s more to teaching than knowing the subject” he murmured darkly.

“Well good for you, Sebby, if you want it” Miranda said.

“But Durmstrang!”  Lucien gasped.  “What about Egypt, and the sunshine, and all those bikini clad witches?  You won’t keep your tan long at Durmstrang, Sebby.”

“Are yes, the witches” Sebastian muttered.  “There is a possibility – a very faint possibility – that I might be getting engaged.”

“Have you got any other bombshells for us or is this it?” Celeste asked, pretending to be cross with him.  “Come on, who is she?”

“Her name is Rebekka Zimmermann and she teaches Charms at Durmstrang” Sebastian confessed.  “It’s not definite yet – well, it’s far from definite – but it’s looking a bit hopeful.”

“And when do you start at Durmstrang?” Snape asked, more concerned about his eldest son’s career than Sebastian’s latest sexual exploit.

“Next month” Sebastian replied.  “And I’ll be using my proper name at work – Severus Snape.”

“Then make sure you do a damn good job!” Snape hissed menacingly.

“Next month?  That soon?” Celeste cried.  “Sebby, you might have confided in us earlier!”

“I didn’t want to say anything until it was in the bag, OK?” he explained ruefully.  “I’m sorry; but I didn’t want to count my chickens.”

“Yes, I understand that” Snape said.  “It’s just a bit of a shock, that’s all.”

“What’s Uncle Sebby doing?” Young Sebastian piped up.  “Mum, what’s Uncle Seb…”

“Well, if this is the moment for announcing news” Eleanor cut in, “we have some too.”

“And so have we” Jasmina said quietly.

Snape and Celeste looked at each other, shaking their heads in bewilderment.  “Who shall we hear first?” Celeste asked.  She stared around the table.  “Whose is the least shocking?  Jasmina?  Eleanor?”

“Err, Jazz, you go first” Eleanor said nervously.

“OK” Jasmina said.  She looked at Lucien and they again held hands.  “We’re going to have a baby” she said shyly.  “Next March.”

“Wow!” Miranda exclaimed.

Celeste got up and gave her a hug.  Then she did the same to Lucien.

“Congratulations!” Snape said with feeling.  He shook his son’s hand and went around the table to give Jasmina a hug and a kiss.

“What’s happening, Granddad?” Young Sebastian asked, as Snape resumed his seat.

Camilla, for once, said nothing, but watched everyone with rapt attention.

“Your Uncle Sebastian has a new job and Uncle Lucien and Aunty Jasmina are going to have a baby” Celeste explained to her grandson.  “Now, Eleanor, I believe you have something to tell us.”

“Yes” she said.

“Baby?  Or job?  Or something else entirely?” Snape enquired, his eyes narrowing.

“Job” she said shortly.  “I’m going to Beauxbaton to teach Potions.”

“Good heavens!” Snape replied.  “When?”  He was secretly delighted.

“September next year” she said.  “Valentine Valmont retires then, and it’s been agreed I will be taking over.  Sebby will be school age by then and, well, that’s it really.”

“And what of your job?” Snape asked Augustus.

“Well, I can Apparate” he pointed out.  “But I’ve started looking for something nearer Beauxbaton.  I’ve got over a year to sort something out.  It means, of course, that we’ll be moving to France.”

“Don’t look so sad, Mum” Eleanor pleaded. “It’s my first teaching appointment.  I’m really looking forward to it.”

“Of course” Celeste agreed.  “Of course you are.  I’m just being selfish, thinking we won’t see so much of you two, and Milly, and Young Sebby.”

“But you both teach.  You only see us in the holidays now” Augustus pointed out.

“That’s true” she admitted.

“Yes, that’s right” Snape agreed.  “We will still be able to visit you in the holidays, won’t we.”

“Of course you will” Eleanor agreed.

“And we’ll have Jasmina and Lucien’s baby to see as well” Celeste said.  “Severus is a dab hand at changing nappies.  No – OK – I am only joking.  But he is good with getting babies to sleep.  I remember him walking about with Lucien, lulling him to sleep, while I was trying to cope with you girls.”

“Aaah, poor ickle Lucy!” Sebastian teased.  Lucien threw a bread roll at him.

“Behave!” Snape snapped.  “Act your age.  What sort of example are you setting to Camilla and Young Sebastian?”

“Sorry, Father” they said, grinning sheepishly at each other and occasionally pulling faces when they thought Snape wasn’t looking.

“Wow!  So much is happening, I can’t take it all in” Celeste exclaimed.

“Are there any more surprises” Snape asked shrewdly, giving them all his best penetrating stare.

“Oh-ho, no!  Nothing from me, Dad!” Miranda assured him.  “I’m just enjoying teaching, and giving all the wizards the run-around.  No plans to marry.  No plans to move.”

“No, I don’t think anyone else will be giving you heart failure, Dad” Sebastian agreed brightly, as the Drocourt clock began to chime.  “Can someone pass me another of those samosas–?  Thanks…  Of course I don’t know what Guinny might have up her sleeve” he added a moment later, through a mouthful of salad.

“She’ll be here soon” Celeste observed, glancing at the clock.

“Are we going to live in France, Mum?” Camilla finally enquired.  “I’m sure I’ll cope” she added solemnly, at which all the adults tried to hide their amusement.

*

Shortly after they had finished their meal Guinevere turned up.  She didn’t get on too well with her family and their spouses.  Apart from her mother, the only one she had anything in common with was Sebastian, who could talk about Quidditch; and she got on reasonably well with her youngest sister, Miranda, who was by nature gracious, easy going and non-judgemental.

Guinevere’s arrival occurred almost thirty minutes before Augustus and Eleanor set off for home.  They never stayed late because of the children.  Miranda, Lucien and Jasmina departed an hour later, leaving Guinny sitting on the patio with Celeste and Sebastian, enjoying the pleasant evening coolness.  Very soon however, Snape disappeared to shower and change his clothes, and to instruct the house-elves about supper.  Work permitting, he would dutifully attend Guinevere’s important matches, but he was bored by the children’s interminable conversations about Quidditch.  Eventually Sebastian made some excuse to withdraw leaving Celeste and Guinevere alone together.

The young witch watched him go, her dark eyes troubled.  “Err, I’ve got something to tell you, Mum” she began.

“Well, it’s been a day of news and surprises” Celeste said.  “Go on, do your worst.”

“You may not like it though” Guinevere insisted.

“Never mind.  Try me” Celeste said positively.  She felt she could cope with anything.

“You know I wrote and said I had a friend” Guinevere explained.  “Good friend.”

“Yes” her mother replied, thinking back.  “Samantha Johnson.  Chaser…  Guinny?  What…?  Tears?  Whatever is the matter?”

Celeste moved over and put her arm around her daughter’s shoulders.  She had never seen the tough tom-boy cry since she was a tiny child.

Angry with herself for this unexpected display of emotion, Guinevere roughly brushed the tears away.  “She’s my partner, Mum” she said firmly.  “Let me show you a photograph…”

“Your partner?”  In a daze Celeste looked at the photograph.  It showed an attractive black girl, a little older than Guinevere.  She had an engaging smile, a wealth of bouncing Afro curls and flawless skin like milk chocolate.  “You mean you are lovers” Celeste added, trying to make sense of the words her daughter had used.

“Yes” Guinevere whispered.

“How long for?” Celeste enquired, still sounding as dazed as she felt and not knowing what else to say.

“Over a year” Guinevere replied.  “It’s really important to me, Mum.  We’re quite serious about each other.  How do you think Father ’ll take it?”

A sudden frown creased Celeste’s forehead.  “Actually, I have no idea” she replied truthfully.  “Let’s go and tell him.  Don’t worry – we’ll get through this somehow.”

Sebastian and Snape were in the sitting room.  Snape, dressed now in a cobalt-blue cotton robe, was trying to point out reasons why teachers should be trained to teach.

“Pupils take up information differently” he was saying.  “It’s all very well knowing the facts you want to put across, but the art is to know how to present it to them; how to foster their own spirit of enquiry, and yet protect them when it’s necessary.”

“Don’t worry, Dad” Sebastian assured him.  “I’ll be able t’ – oh, err, scuse me.  This is my cue to butt out.”  Ignoring his father’s puzzled face, he gave Guinevere and Celeste a meaningful look, winked at his sister and added “I’ll be on the patio.”

“Do I stay for this?” Celeste asked Guinevere.

“Yes please, to begin with” she replied.

When he heard the news Snape took it surprisingly well, and after a few minutes Celeste left them alone and went out to Sebastian.

“You knew, didn’t you” she said to her son.

“Yeah, I’ve known about Sam for a few months” he admitted.  “Miranda’s known, too – sort of.  Miranda’s not much fussed about such things anyway.  She’s a bit of a free spirit, like me.  Well – like I used to be.  Guinny said she was gonna break the news today.  Probably.  She’s always felt a bit of an outsider in the family – feels she doesn’t fit in.”

“Oh, heavens–” Celeste began, shocked to learn that any child of hers should feel like that.

“Don’t think anyone can do anything about it” Sebastian replied.  “That’s just how it is.”

“Well, I can’t hear your father shouting” Celeste observed.  “Mind you, that doesn’t mean much – he’s got the most deadly whisper I’ve ever heard.  And the most passionate” she added sheepishly.  “Sebby, can you see what they’re doing?”

“Err, yeah.  He’s giving her a hug.  Now a kiss.  Yep, I think we can go in.”

“Ohrr, thank goodness!  Oh, and Sebby?” Celeste added, “bring Rebekka to visit us soon as you can – soon as things look promising.  OK?”

“OK.  Thanks Mum.”

He gave his mother a quick hug, then, a little awkwardly, they walked indoors.

Snape looked at Celeste, trying to read her reaction.  “Well, as ever with our wedding anniversaries, we did try to get all the family together today” he announced, “but it seems we didn’t quite manage it.  I was wondering whether Guinny and Samantha would like to come to dinner.  Perhaps next Sunday.”  His eyebrows arched in enquiry as he looked from his wife to his daughter.

Celeste smiled.  “That sounds fine to me” she agreed.  “Guinny, do you think you two could manage that?”

“Yes, I think so” Guinevere said, returning the smile.  “Thanks.”  She looked gratefully at her father.  “Thanks, Dad” she added in a small voice.

“Good.  That’s settled” Snape said with relief.  “Now Guinny; how about some supper…?”

*

It was almost midnight.  Sebastian and Guinevere had left half an hour earlier, and Snape stood by the sitting room sideboard, pressing buttons on the hi-fi.  He had chosen a CD, and Take My Breath Away was wafting across the room.  He whirled Celeste round and then settled into a slow, smoochy dance.

“Remember this at our wedding?” he murmured.  They danced on, and in time the tune changed to Unchained Melody.

“Oh, what a day it has been!” Snape exclaimed.  “Have you enjoyed it, Milady?”

“Of course I have!” Celeste assured him.

“Even with all the unexpected news?”

“It’s nothing really bad, is it” she pointed out rationally.  “Careers.  Babies.  Partnerships.  We are lucky.  Our children are talented and successful.  We should be glad for them.”

“Yes” he agreed.  “We should.  We are!  What a family – look at them!  Look at us!”

His eyes had fallen on the family group photograph and he stopped dancing to pick it up.  The sideboard’s top held a cluster of photographs, most in scrolled pewter frames – Snape’s parents, Celeste’s parents and grand parents, Harry and Cho as bride and groom, and the photo of Lily Evans, Harry had given Snape when he came to collect his mother’s portrait from the dungeons the year after Snape and Celeste had married.  Amongst these the photograph of the Snape family group was by far the largest.  There was Snape, centre stage, smiling coolly at the world with a look of supreme self-satisfaction.  Pressed lovingly close against his right side was Celeste, her pearly, joyful smile much in evidence.  Next to her was proud, cunning Sebastian with his winning treacherous charm; and next to Sebastian was Guinevere, looking strong and defiant.  On Snape’s left side was Eleanor with her dark beauty and her half-smile of slight discomposure.  Next to her, looking firm and dependable, the comely, regular features of Lucien smiled modestly. And beyond Lucian, willowy Miranda smiled her other-worldly, enigmatic smile.

Snape hugged Celeste tightly to him as he studied the photograph.  “I could never have guessed in my darkest days” he said softly, “that I would forge a union with the beautiful heiress of Gryffindor and thereby father such lovely and gifted children.  Nor that I would become Headmaster of Hogwarts.  Thank you, Celestine.”  He kissed her temple and she hugged him tightly in return.

At length she said “I feel weary now.  I’m going to put my feet up.”

She sank into one of the capacious sofas that formed three sides of a large square in front of the inglenook fireplace.  The hearth itself was full of roses – three dozen Guinée black-red fragrant blooms, almost concealing their hammered copper container.  Snape always bought Celeste Guinée roses on their anniversary in remembrance of their wedding ceremony.  On her birthday he chose a bi-coloured red and peach-gold rose such as Sweet Magic, Piccadilly or Colibri to symbolize the colours of Gryffindor.  And on Valentine’s Day, Keepsake’s deep pink blooms were a fond reminder of Gilderoy Lockhart’s lurid pink decorations they sat amidst, during their many light-hearted February trips to The Cup and Sorcerer.

“You didn’t seem too shocked about Guinny” Celeste observed.

Snape stood pondering matters for a few seconds.  “No, I don’t think I am” he replied.

He replaced the photograph and plumped down next to Celeste, taking her hand in his.  “I think I almost half knew” he added.  “I don’t mean I understand it, but it doesn’t seem anything to worry about – quite the contrary really.  I just want her to be happy.”

“So do I” Celeste said.  “She’s an awkward girl, but I do love her.”

“As do I” he replied in gentle agreement.  “Samantha Johnson.  Guinny says she went to Beauxbaton, but I believe I remember her elder sister at Hogwarts.  Angelina.  She was in Gryffindor.”

“Was she a Quidditch player?”

“I’m pretty sure she was; yes.  I think I’ll have a drink.  Celeste, it’s been such a day!  Can I tempt you to an Ogden’s?  Or maybe a Calvados?”

“Oh!  No. No, hang on” Celeste replied.  “How about–?  I want you to try this.”

Hurrying to the dining room she picked up the long forgotten carafe of ‘cool tankard’ and filled two goblets.  Then she used a spell to chill them.

“Try this” she repeated.  They sipped their drinks, enjoying the tiny levitation effect the Billywig sting produced.  “Well, what do you think?” Celeste asked.

“Mmmm. Very good. Very pleasant” he replied “But hardly Ogden’s Old Firewhisky.  This is the infusion that Camilla produced isn’t it?”

“Yes!”

“Her first – well, not quite a potion – but not a bad effort for a four-year old!  And apart from warming and cooling the cauldron I hardly helped her!” he exclaimed softly.

“Exactly” Celeste replied.  “She’s a natural isn’t she.”

Snape drained the goblet, set it carefully down on the coffee table and put an arm around his wife.  He thought of his daughter about to start teaching Potions at Beauxbaton and of her daughter who at the age of just under five, had proved herself very at home in his potions laboratory.  He could not know at this stage in his life, that she would become a professional potion maker, nor that a future grandson Rupert would become Durmstrang’s Professor of Potions, nor that there would be a great granddaughter Elspereth who would became Potions Professor, Head of Slytherin House and later Headmistress of Hogwarts, and who would also possess the curious gift of parceltongue.  As yet, this all lay in the future.  However he hugged Celeste and kissed her cheek.  His heart was very full.

“It is good to know” he said, working hard to keep his voice level, “that the gift continues – that there are in the family at least two more Makers of Potions!”

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Author's Note: Cool tankard exists.  I have guessed at the proportions but apart from the Billywig sting the recipe should work.  (Billywigs, along with some of the other animals Snape used in his Nerve Calming variation, can be found in J K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.)

 Epilogue

Celeste retained no conscious memory of her ‘chessboard’ dream at The Necromancer in the Easter of 1999, yet Tol Galen’s herb and kitchen garden bore a remarkable resemblance to it.

Snape and Celeste worked at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry until Snape’s retirement.  In all those years Celeste never sought promotion – she had the ability to be a House Mistress, or to take her career further, but felt it would be improper for two Professor Snapes to occupy senior positions at the same school.  However, she never wanted to work anywhere else and enjoyed class teaching.  When Snape retired she retired too, and they spent most of their time at Isle Sans Pareil, enjoying the Scilly Isles’ milder climate.  No longer restricted to school holidays, they also travelled a good deal.

Eleanor and Augustus moved to France.  Eleanor took up her Potions Professorship and Augustus secured a Mediwizard job near Paris.  Camilla and Young Sebastian attended Beauxbaton, and on leaving they took over the Apothecary Unit attached to St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Illnesses in London.  They ran the Apothecary Unit as a separate business, their largest contract being with the hospital, but they also had other major contracts and a ‘chemist shop’ for retail sales.  As Camilla was a potion maker and Sebastian a herbologist, their skills were complementary.

Camilla married a St Mungo’s Mediwizard, but Young Sebastian’s heart was given to a waitress from The Necromancer.  Camilla had one son, Valentine Augustus Severus, who also became a potion maker.  Young Sebastian had two daughters; Vanessa Eleanor Leander, and Elizabeth Salazanne Miranda.  Vanessa became a Mediwizard at St Mungo’s, and to everyone’s great surprise Elizabeth became Professor of Divination at Hogwarts.

Lucien and Jasmina had three children; Lucien Severus Salazar, Augustus Leander Fabien, and Alexandra Yasmina Estelle.  They were accomplished wizards and witch, but they also all took Muggle degrees – respectively in Logic with Physics, Modern Languages and Astrophysics.

Sebastian married Rebekka Zimmermann and had four children; Rupert Severus Salazar, Franz-Anton Sebastian, Kaspar Reinhard Leander, and Ruth Alexandra Kandida.

In later life Rupert became Professor of Potions at Durmstrang.  He had married Harry Potter’s granddaughter, Imogen, and so it was Rupert’s daughter Elspereth (Snape’s and Harry’s great granddaughter) who became Potions Professor, Head of Slytherin House and later Headmistress of Hogwarts.  Imogen Potter was the daughter of Sirius Potter and Narcissa Malfoy (Draco and Hermione’s eldest daughter).  So Snape was intrigued to see that Elspereth Imogen Salazanne Snape, the future Headmistress of Hogwarts, was a descendant of the Snape, Potter and Malfoy families.  She was also a parcelmouth, as were all of Harry Potter’s descendents.

Samantha Johnson was welcomed into the Snape family.  As Samantha worked as coach for the Chudley Cannons, she and Guinevere chose to set up home near Shaftesbury in Dorset.  When Guinevere retired from the England International Quidditch Team, she became coach to the Wimbourne Wasps.

Fancy-free Miranda played the field for years, but eventually settled down with a Muggle engineer from Pisa; and in the fullness of time they had one son, Giovanni Alexander Theophilus, who was a wizard and a mathematician.  He worked in the Muggle world as a civil engineer, and in his spare time dabbled in Divination and Herbology.  His son, Cassandro Fabio Bendict (Snape’s great grandson), became Professor of Divination at Sienna.

All the family were vegetarian; many were vegan.  Amongst Snape’s and Celeste’s descendants there was always a strand of compassion.  There was, too, a curious ability to see into the future – a trait inherited via Celeste’s Uncle Fabien who was that strange creature ‘a Muggle who was almost a wizard’.  Also, to Snape’s delight, his descendents included many gifted potion makers and speakers of parceltongue.

To the end of their days, Snape and Celeste remained in love and faithful to one-another.  Snape never admitted to his wife that in 1998 he had searched her bed-sitting room, nor that he had followed her to Hogallen Farm, and later to Holy Cross Church.  If she had any suspicions of those underhand activities she certainly never voiced them.  Naturally Snape felt a measure of guilt about his initial attitude towards Celeste that had prompted such deeds, but he was accustomed to living with guilt.  He regarded his actual investigations as ‘necessary actions’ and, true to his Slytherin nature, he was always prepared to stand by them.

The End

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Author’s Notes

My object in writing this was to get Snape to develop sufficiently to become a husband, father and Hogwarts Headmaster.  I therefore made him change, and used as a premise the notion that he is a mediocre teacher.  I do not like his teaching style, nevertheless I have to admit that Order of the Phoenix shows that he is not a mediocre teacher.

The process of change actually started in Chapter 5 when, via Fabien Lavelle, Snape received a blessing; naturally he was unaware of this.

Because I have created so many fictitious items in this tale, such as Stipa macropungens, Spartina argenta and Zenthem Gum, I feel it only fair to list some items and references that are genuine but perhaps a bit obscure…

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